Agricultural and rural tourism is gradually becoming an economic development trend, helping take advantage of rural values and preserve traditional culture.
According to the Central Coordination Office on New Rural Development, Vietnam currently has more than 1,300 tourist attractions, 70 percent of them in rural areas. Many agriculture, community and ecology-based tourism models have proven high economic efficiency.
In Dong Son Commune of Ninh Binh Province’s Tam Diep City, cooperatives and farm owners have worked together to set up tours that include homestays, gardening and fishing to tap local strengths. Trinh Van Tien, director of the Tam Diep Agriculture and Tourism Cooperative, said that in 2020, the cooperative members that produce and trade in Ninh Binh’s specialty plants and animals decided to work with other farms to develop tourism. The cooperative’s tourism model has been recognized with four-star certification from the One Commune, One Product (OCOP) program.
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Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, deputy general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said agriculture and community-based tourism models have generated stable jobs for hundreds of workers in the countryside, while promoting consumption of OCOP products. However, these models remain small and often insufficiently attractive or interesting. In addition, some areas have homogenous natural conditions and similar living habits and community culture, resulting in overlapping and monotonousness.
Incomplete policies are also one of the bottlenecks in agricultural and rural tourism development. There are no links among state management agencies and between the agricultural sector and the culture, sports and tourism sector in the development of farms and cooperatives associated with tourism. In particular, many localities, even ministries and departments, have not yet distinguished between agricultural tourism based on agricultural production and agricultural resources and rural tourism based on not only production but also natural resources, culture and national identity. This results in confusion in formulating strategic planning for new rural areas and tourism development.
To tap potential and overcome difficulties in the development of rural tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has worked with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on a draft project for the 2021-2025 period. The project aims to complete the tourist destination network by 2025 with at least 200 community-based tourism services and rural tourist attractions meeting at least three-star OCOP standards. The project also targets the participation of at least 50 percent of traditional craft villages in the rural tourism value chain.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Doan Van Viet said local authorities should integrate tourism planning into socioeconomic development planning. In addition, specific assessments are needed for each region to develop rural tourism in a sustainable manner, Viet said.
Mechanisms, policies, planning and human resources are required for sustainable rural tourism development.